Contemplate the term, “body of Christ.” If you’re like me, you may feel a bit uneasy thinking of yourself as a biblical body part. However, take a deep breath and meditate on the deeper meaning; you may find yourself fascinated with the implications.
When we take what we know scientifically about the human body and apply it to the body of Christ, we can discover deeper truths about what the latter means. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body . . . and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NIV).
Paul went on to compare how parts of our physical body function in unison. In a similar way, the body of Christ is to work together, as a unified whole. Each person who accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord is a member of this body.
This truth prompted me to reflect on the meaning of individuality. It is as individuals that we make the decision to become Christ’s followers. And, if we come to Christ as individuals, doesn’t this mean God deals with us as individuals from the moment of our crucial decision?
This is significant; if this is true, the concerns of the individual can take pre-eminence over the concerns of the body. Yet, the church is a body. So when God deals with me, is it as a part of the body of Christ? Or as an individual?
An individualistic American is more comfortable with the latter choice. But Scripture is clear that our Creator sees individuals as members of a larger body.
A multitude of souls makes up the body of Christ. We aren’t self-contained members, each commissioned to wage spiritual warfare with the enemy. None of us is all-knowing or all-sufficient. We need each other’s support and mutual perspectives.
Each of us is a member of the same body, with each of us playing a unique role. So rejection or belittling of another member should cause us pain. We should never look down on or berate members we see as less important than ourselves.
To me, the description of the body of Christ in the New Testament reads more like a biology textbook than a business plan. We need to see ourselves as a living, divinely-inspired body. So, when speaking about this body, it is helpful to use language that expresses terms of life.
The biblical phrase, “body of Christ,” helps everyone better understand the unseen spiritual world. While we live in a body, each of us has a spirit and a mind. Our body is only the temporary vehicle our spirit uses to navigate through this world.
Christ, too, has a body here on earth. This body allows Him to move through the physical world as He touches and interacts with people. This wonderful unseen body may indeed be even more real, and more detailed, than our physical bodies.
It is a profound thought, and a profound honor, that the Lord would allow us to be part of this gracious plan for hope and healing – the body of Christ.